Coffee in the Barn

1. Career Opportunities in the field of Animal Science

February 17, 2022 The Sunswine Group Season 1 Episode 1
Coffee in the Barn
1. Career Opportunities in the field of Animal Science
Show Notes Transcript

Are you interested in a career in animal science, but just can't quite pinpoint the right fit for you? Choosing a career path after graduation is perhaps one of the most confusing steps, especially if it is as broad a field of work as animal science. In that sense, knowing about the different options in the market can allow us to make a clearer decision, either to choose a career that will offer us different experiences and broaden our curriculum or to build a network of contacts that will allow us to get where we want. be in the future. 

In this episode, we will talk about all the Career Opportunities in the field of Animal Sciences, where Dan Simmons explains all the different options you can choose from. As a successful recruiter and keynote speaker, Dan shares his expertise on all things careers in the animal science industry. The segment for today's episode is taken from one of our recorded webinars ‘’Career Opportunities in the field of Animal Science’’, which you can find on our YouTube channel Animal Science Office Hours

What You’ll Learn

●      The different fields of Animal Science where you can work in.

●      Tips on which career can fit depending on your personality and life situation.

●      Benefits and Limiting Factors of each career option.

About our Founder:

Casey Bradley PhD is an Experienced Animal Scientist and Nutritionist that has worked with swine, poultry, ruminants, and pets. Specialties include product development, technical writing, and presentations, research, technical sales, mentoring, and networking. Academic training includes nutrition, immunology, and animal wellbeing. She has presented at large conferences in USA, Canada, Greece, and Denmark. Work experience includes farm management, research management, technical service and sales, regulatory, project management, and employee management. 

About the Guest:

Dan Simmons is the owner and founder of Continental Search has been recruiting high-impact professionals since 1991. Since 2001, he has focused on recruiting sales and technical professionals, as well as corporate executives in animal agriculture across the USA and Canada. 

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Good morning and thank you for joining. My name is Dan Simmons and greetings from coastal Delaware. I want to talk about career opportunities in the animal sciences today. Many, if not most, people who started out animal science do so because they think they want to be a veterinarian. They want to heal all the animals. Most don't become veterinarians. Often, it's because of organic chemistry. Some people did like the surgeries, some don't like the GPA you have to maintain for this. Others look at the student loan debt versus the starting salary. So, with that, what they do is look at Plan B. Popular options for Plan B:

·         Live animal production

·         Government

·         Academia

·         Not for profits

·         And industry.

If you're looking for a Plan B, what I want you to consider is who you are. Most fresh grads don't last in their first job more than a year is because they got their BS or they got their PhD and then the next day they might it was a J O B. And they didn't think about getting a career they thought about getting a job. So once you think about these things, do you prefer to deal with people? with data? with things? or with animals? These are different personality types. Some would rather work with people. Often, they go into sales and marketing, some work with data. That would be people that work with research, r&d, things, a lot of them go into manufacturing. animals, thank God we have those people because that's where our food comes from. Look at how much you're willing to travel overnight. If you want to be home and have supper at your table every night, that's going to limit the type of work you can do. If you'd really like to be on the road, there are options for that. So we're going to look at how that's going to impact the quality of life you have, the lifestyle you have, and I want you to look at whether or not you should be in a barn, in a manufacturing or processing plant, whether you should be in an office or a lab, whether like Casey and I, you're working for a home office, whether you're in a classroom or you're writing grants, or whether you're behind a windshield, and then in a conference room, I want you to think about where you want to be? how much you want to travel, what you want to deal with, and organization you want to be with. The structured versus creative. You want a fast-paced environment? or something that's slow instead. You want to be with a big organization? or a small one? Or maybe a startup? Do you want to work for a for profit company? Or do you want to work for something that isn’t focused on profit?


Another thing you have to consider is you have to live where the animals are. Saddest story: I had a PhD from North Carolina who just got her degree in dairy nutritionist. She was going to be a dairy nutritionist. I said ‘’That is great. Where do you want to go?’’, she said ‘’well, I have to stay here in North Carolina’’, and I said ‘’There aren't enough cows’’. She didn't think it all the way through, I don’t know what she's doing, but she couldn't get the job she wanted that day because she didn't have the ability to be where the animals are.


I live on the Delaware coast for years a cow calf operation couple of them but there aren't enough beef cattle for somebody to make a living supporting the beef cattle industry in Delaware. So, you have to live where the animals are. Your choice is going to impact your loved ones, whether you're going to be at home every night or whether you're going to travel. How do you handle stress? The proximity to family, how important is that? Some people want to be in the town they grew up in live on a family farm. That's great. I swore up and down I wouldn't live in the county that I grew up in and for the last 40 Some years I haven’t depends upon how you want to be close to home or close to family.


You want to look at whether advancement comes with relocation. if you're going to climb a ladder and that's important to you. You have to choose a company and choose a career where you can do that in one location. If you don't want to move. Oftentimes you'll have two professionals and they don't necessarily have ruined career paths. You have to look at who's going to follow whose career. Sometimes that's done by paycheck. Sometimes that's done on who can work remotely and who can't. But you have to think about who's going to follow whose career and whether you want the steady paycheck of a government job or an academic job, or whether you want the opportunity for a big win and you want to go in the industry. Whatever it is, I want you to pick a job that matches your personality.


Those six topics are a big part of it. But if you've chosen to work in life production, there are limiting factors. You have to live where the animals are, normally that's rural and its physical work in a lot of cases. But there are reasons to choose it. You want to work with the animals. You enjoy physical work; you like to work in a barn. Well, this could be you, if you want to do that type of work, there are job opportunities out there, either working for an independent producer, becoming contract grower, work as a service rep or production manager, most often that's in poultry or swine. You can work for yourself. You can work for an independent farmer or you can work for integrated poultry or swine company. Those are the most common.


You can go to work in government. Now there are limiting factors with this. There are roughly 60 different employers for government. And that's it. And if you want to work for the federal government, most of those opportunities are around DC. There are some sites hither and yon, but both of them are around the DC area. If you don't want to work for the federal government, but you want to be in government, you better be where the job is. Because you've got one department of agriculture per state. They're going to tell you where you're going to live. And you have to be able to put up with the bureaucracy, because it’s there. But, normally stable employment. There's a path for advancement, excellent benefits with government and you don't need to relocate. So, if that’s you, those are the options and the types of roles you can look at most common would be a data analyst, and thank heaven for them, because that's where we get the census on where the animals are.


You can work in regulatory, and you can work in r&d, the types of employers that are out there for this USDA, the FDA, State Departments of agriculture, state veterinarians, the military has some options for people of the animal scientists, there are some counties that will have government roles for animal scientists. And there's large metro areas you want to work with horses, or dogs. They will have things like that as well.


Now you choose to work in academia. Now there are some limiting factors with academia. You have to live with the schools are, and there is no more than three in a state that I can think of that has an animal science department, and some times that counts private schools, in some cases funding is dropping, particularly for extension agents. This past week, somebody told me they did not want to go into academia, because they think the job is more about getting grant money, not research and teaching. That's not my point of view, but that came from an educated educator. And top jobs require a doctorate degree. So those are the limiting factors. But people choose this because they desire to teach. They want to do research work. They like the location. So, if those things work for you, and these are the types of jobs you want. You want to be in basic or applied research and development. You want to work in extension, which can be very gratifying career. You want to be a professor; you've got two types of options. You've got your state land grant universities, and if you don't like what's going on with the one that employs you, you have to relocate to go to the next one. There are some private universities that have animal science program.  Wilmington University in Ohio, comes to mind. Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania comes to mind, Berry College that I believe is in Georgia comes to mind. But these are few and far between and if I can put them on my fingers. There's not many of them. So, your choices are most commonly in the state land grant universities.


There are limiting factor for not for profits. The compensation office often lags other sectors. Location. These are everywhere. Sometimes there's a lack of advancement opportunities. In fact, in most of the trade associations, there's a lack of advancement opportunities, and many not for profits lack sufficient funding for sustainability. But you will feel as though you're making a difference and you can make a fabulous impact and some of these organizations have plenty of money and have a real voice. And there are different types of organizations like this. There are research organizations, there's trade associations, obviously there's the zoos and scientific Association, in just a moment I’m going to share with you some examples of those. The opportunities you could have there would be a farm manager, a researcher, member communications, communication and marketing, member recruitment, government relations, and animal caretakers.

Those are the most common job titles I found in the not for profit. Types of lawyers, there are research farms. Two that I know most about are the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma, and the minor Institute in Chazy, New York. There are lots of trade associations, like the NCBA Beef Association, US Poultry & Egg, that promote industry. Then there's scientific societies, Poultry Science Association, American Dairy Science Association, American Society and Animal Sciences. These have full time employees. If you want to look at it not for profit check these out. If you don't know what to do in your career. This is a very interesting way to start.


And obviously there's the Zoos or you can go into industry. The limiting factors, the presenter doesn't see any. Your host doesn't see any in case you didn't see any. Reasons to choose: You're feeding the world. There's career advancement. It's practical application of science. There are lots of employment options. Some of the jobs work from home and the income potential is truly unlimited. If you're going to do this, the types of jobs that are most commonly out there is to be a veterinarian, work in a clinic or have a small practice. And that can be a lucrative way to go, in many cases, and it's physically demanding but it's a great place to start. Technical Support, very popular. I don't want to sell the product I would explain the science behind the product. Or I don't want to have to be responsible for the relationship with the producer. But I want to help the producer. Then there's product development, basic r&d. I want to create the right animal health product to solve this problem with pigs. That is why I was put on earth. Well, this is the type of job for you that product development.


And There's those who feed the animals, write the diets, animal nutritionists and the formulators, if you're looking at those roles, the nutritionist most often are going to have a doctorate degree, the formulators will have a bachelor's or a master's degree. If you're looking at formulation, I would look at a master's degree and this is someone who likes to be in one place all the time, likes the steady paycheck, likes to understand what's going on has a variety of things to do during the day. But if 5 o’clock is on and they have applied their science and their knowledge, to help with the diets, or to help make certain that the quality of the product going out, it's right. And then there’s sale, sales is just solving problems for people. That's all it is. It's a great way to go. There's an unlimited income potential. I know salespeople out there earning $400,000+ a year and they feel great about solving problems for their customers. There are manufacturing operations, whether you're working in a feed mill, whether you're working animal processing. There are a lot of manufacturing operations for animal scientists, particularly if you're looking at food safety. Food safety is one of the fastest growing niches in animal sciences right now, in fact we're starting to devote resources to developing that client base were 10 years ago, we wouldn't even think about it. So, if you're looking at manufacturing operations, one of the fastest growing areas, food safety and quality assurance.


There's also marketing and product promotion. The Types of employers you're going to work with food production companies (the Tyson's, the Pilgrims, the Mountaire farms), the feed companies (Land’ O’Lakes, Kent Nutrition Group, Hubbard Feeds, AllTech). The nutrition products companies (Biomin, Addiseo, Neutrapharma, Chemin (Now Nexgen Pharma), these types of companies.


The genetics companies. whether it's AI, the AI companies in dairy in beef, or you work for those in the poultry or the swine industry, there are opportunities there as well. A big part of this now is animal health, and pharma. Animal Health is a piece of it that is non pharmaceutical. And that is a big area of growth right now. The pre biotics, EU biotics, probiotics, that is a big area of growth because we're not vaccinating animals like we were.


So, there's lots of opportunities there. So, if you're looking for career and career growth, this is an area you can look at. There's also genetics, these are the types of companies that will employ you in industry. These are the types of roles most commonly found for people that have a graduate degree in the animal sciences.


Earlier today, Casey talked about the need to network and the idea that you should communicate with people, get their ideas, build relationships, and at this point, I would normally be plugging the idea of attending conferences and trade shows. So, I'm recommending more than ever, that you do this through social media. And if you want to explode your LinkedIn network and we have not connected yet, you can explode your network by linking to me I have 10,000 1st level connections. Most of them in the animal sciences. Feel free to link to me, I accept all invitations of people in the animal sciences. If you're not in North America, please send me a note You attended to coffee careers. And I'd be happy to accept your invitation. We host a group called the Animal Science Monitor that connects 4500 people. It is monitored but it's open to members to discuss and promote whatever they'd like to promote.



So Marissa, you've been listening and participating in all the Coffee And Careers in the Animal Science webinars this last year. How does that help you decide your career path?



I think I've taken a lot away from the webinars, But one of the biggest things that I've taken away from the webinar is defining what my ideal career may look like, which may be that I'm willing to relocate and to travel, if That means that I'm going to land a career with a company that has career advancement opportunities, or a good company culture.



What do you not want to do in your career?



From my experience in the webinars and my experience in grad school, I've kind of paved the path that I don't want to be super involved in the research and development side of things. I think it's just a personal perspective, and definitely a big takeaway. Moving into my career. 


Well, that maybe breaks my heart just a little bit because you know, research I'm still nerdy about that. But I think I'd seen you grow a lot in case the audience did not know, Marissa has been our alpha test on our externship we're going to call our accelerator program for students. So Marissa has been organizing coffee and careers in 2021. It has done a remarkable job. She's come a long ways, but what I really noticed about Marissa she really shines when she's around people and she's really social and so I really can respect the fact that she doesn't want to be hidden in that research bar and taking samples and she wants to explore and do new things. And so here are the sunswine group. We're really proud to have Marissa we're really excited about the career opportunities. My key takeaway from Dan's talk, that was represented in this episode, was the fact that I wish I would have had somebody go through that with me when I was younger, and I would have made decisions differently. For instance, when I finished my PhD, we tried to move back home so we chose a job that was in the right location for our families, but probably wasn't maybe the best career option for me at the time. But what I can also say that is your life changes as you get older, you may be considering a career move 20 years from now, and you need to ask yourself, Do I want to travel? Can I travel? A lot has changed in my career and those decisions and those job choices I've made in my career have changed because of family needs, professional needs, you know, incomes always nice. So I made those decisions. I've had the opportunity to travel the world meet people all over the world. But at the time that travel takes a toll. When you really think about that, we just can't imagine what it's like because you're just pushing through school, trying to get done but even in your career. Have you sat back if you're a professional listening to this and putting down a list of the absolute must haves in a job and the things that you don't want to have.. Marissa obviously doesn't want to be stuck in a barn. Even though she likes coffee in the barn. She doesn't want to be there. She wants to be around people. So I think that's kind of really important. The other promising statement that she made is that she's willing to travel today. But I'd venture to guess if I asked Marissa in 10 years from now, I wonder if that answer would be the same thing. So keep that in mind. As you navigate your career. Will that career change or be flexible enough? And Marissa made a great point, career advancement. So she's already looking at companies where she can grow professionally versus having to jump jobs. But that also gives her that flexibility to say hey, I may take a sales role today and be willing to travel 60 to 80% of the time, then five to 10 years from now that hopefully that company has something else for her if that need changes in her life. So kind of think about that. And she made that point about culture in that right? and that decision of what career I want. I like a mix. I like to be on the farm with the animals. I like to interact with people. I like to discuss science. I like to follow the data. I do like to travel a little bit because that king size bed some nights by myself without two dogs, a husband and a son is enjoyable sometimes not always. But there's a lot of things to take away from this episode. And I really hope these points really help you drive home what you really want in life. And Dan has said it best. Don't think about getting a job. Think about getting a career and there may be parts of your job that you don't like to do in the beginning. But it's for the long haul as part of that career, you may have to put in the time and the investment and do some things that you may not like to get to where you are because I can remember Dr. GaryDial  when I worked for new fashioned pork in between my bachelor's and my master's degree. He put me on a power washer and processing pigs for a month. Crickets nothing and he you know when I said ‘’is there something else I could be doing? Is there something more I could do?’’ They said ‘’we just put you through that to test you. We knew that there's more potential in you’’ But you have to start somewhere you have to realize that every Job's important.